South Scotland

Galloway Kite Trail spending 'worth £33m'

Red kite
Image caption The Galloway Red Kite Trail is reckoned to be worth a large amount to the local economy

A new report has claimed a nature trail in southern Scotland has generated millions of pounds for the economy.

It has estimated visitors to the Galloway Kite Trail have spent a "minimum of £33m" in the region since its launch in 2003.

The project is also credited with supporting the equivalent of nearly 15 full-time jobs a year.

The figures were collated during a placement for The Conservation Volunteers with RSPB Scotland.

The trail, which is a self-guided tour circling Loch Ken near Castle Douglas, promotes a set of destinations for visitors, including red kite viewing sites, activities and local businesses.

It was set up following the successful re-introduction of red kites to Galloway after an absence of 130 years.

'Success story'

The birds were persecuted to extinction in Scotland in the 19th century but have made a comeback, with the estimated Galloway population now standing at around 330 to 380 kites.

Since their reintroduction, the project has been supported by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

Chris Miles, SNH area manager, said: "The reintroduction of this species has been a great success story, with a self-sustaining population now slowly spreading out from the Loch Ken area.

"It's even more satisfying to know that this wildlife spectacle is also creating a real economic benefit.

"Projects like this perfectly illustrate why we'll be celebrating Scotland's outstanding natural heritage attractions in Year of Natural Scotland 2013."

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